By Don Pham
There are over 70,000 Vietnamese Americans in the Puget Sound Area. Little Saigon serves 100 Seattle businesses, most of which are Vietnamese owned. The neighborhood was formed 37 years ago in response to the growing refugee population, and is located in the International District primarily between King St and Yesler Way, and between Rainier Ave and 8th Ave.
Currently, this area limits buildings to 3-stories in height. Recently, the Seattle Housing Authority approved of raising that limit in Little Saigon to 15-stories. In neighboring Yesler Terrace, the limit will rise to 35-stories. Many residents and business owners worry that upcoming development projects will drastically increase the price of rent, forcing business owners into bankruptcy. Many comparable Seattle neighborhoods have a limit of under 65 feet: Capitol Hill, Madison Valley, Fremont, Wallingford, Ballard, Queen Anne and Columbia City.
Community leaders have proposed a compromise of an 8-story limit on buildings. They also request that the city invest towards the future of the neighborhood, to help the local population cope with sudden economic change. Proposals include funding for infrastructure and community recreation centers, to encourage small business owners and to help insulate the community from future displacement.
Organizers hope to gather 1,000 signatures by Monday, June 10th, in preparation for a meeting with City Council. For more information, please visit: http://friendsoflittlesaigon.org/